Figuring out the best way to paint from photos in the studio has been a long-time challenge for many artists. Some artists feel that painting from photos is too much of a departure from the influence of experiencing scenes and painting them in person, so they never refer to photos while painting. I’ve found in my work that photos are a great help, especially when painting large canvases that incorporate figures. The key for me to maintain spontaneity and looseness in my studio paintings is to practice working from life as often as possible. I’ll either venture outdoors for some plein air painting, visit a local life drawing session or hire a model for this vital experience (at least weekly if possible). Photos do tend to fall short in many areas, which is where experience painting from life really becomes beneficial.
These days, many artists are using their computer screens as a way to display photos from which to paint. I’ve had success painting from my iMac screen, but my easel is now in the back room of my gallery and not close enough to my computer. I decided to buy an LCD TV to use instead, and ended up with a Samsung 22″ LCD HDTV. I use an HDMI cable and an adapter which allows me to display photos on the LCD screen using my iPhone. The picture quality of the LCD is great and the screen produces nice, vibrant colors. The LCD allows me to match the colors that I saw when viewing the photos on my iMac–a great improvement over the times when I used to print out source photos on my printer. I was always having to make major color corrections while painting from printed photos in order to try to match the colors that I liked in the photo as displayed on my iMac. So the LCD TV works well in my studio painting process.
How are you using technology in your studio to give you the best painting experience? Do you find that technology is helping you as you create your artwork?